Huelskamp hears mixed response at first county stop

Tim Huelskamp came to his first town hall meeting in Marion County as First District representative Friday with the intent of informing residents about the severity of the federal deficit.

He may have left with a sense that the ideological divide that makes it difficult to find solutions in Washington, D.C., makes it difficult to find them here, too.

The Republican from Fowler, about 100 days into his first term, came to the Marion County Courthouse armed with charts to illustrate the budget crisis for the dozen or so people who came to hear from him.

?Sometime in the future, folks, we won?t be able to borrow enough money to keep up?at some point we?ll consume too much of our economy,? he said.

Huelskamp said when he was born, about 5 percent of the national debt was held by foreign holding, 20 years ago it was about 19 percent and today about 50 percent. China has become the leading lender with 29.2 percent of the U.S. deficit.

Huelskamp added that the deficit will begin to accelerate dramatically within this decade because the government has begun to borrow money to pay for Social Security and Medi?care.

?We?ve had folks tell us we can?t touch Medi?care, but if we don?t, we risk the solvency of that program,? he said.

Huelskamp touted the ?Plan for Prosperity? proposed by the Republicans that includes changes to Medicare and Social Security as well as other budget-reduction proposals.

Later, Huelskamp defended the Plan for Prosperity against one constituent?s charge that it would end Medicare. He said those accusations have been falsely circulated on the Internet and by the president, and that the plan would actually save Medicare by making needed

changes.

Q&A session

During a vigorous question-and-answer session that followed the budget presentation, topics ranged from budget cuts, to health-care reform to climate change.

One constituent defended the president?s idea of a single-payer health-care system while another pled for personal health savings plans that would keep medical decisions strictly between doctor and patient with no government involvement.

Huelskamp said the fundamental debate is about constitutional authority.

?It?s not about the issue of health care, it?s about the issue of liberty?can you let the federal government mandate exactly what you shall purchase?? he said. ?If you want to do that, then change the constitution, don?t try to go around it.?

Huelskamp extended the constitutional authority issue to include the Environmental Protection Agency, calling the EPA ?the single biggest impediment to job creation in the country at this current time.?

That led to the most energized exchange of the meeting as the topic shifted to climate change. Huelskamp declared his belief that carbon dioxide (CO2) is not a health problem.

?Whether or not you think CO2 is hazardous to your health, the federal government has no authority to regulate CO2,? he said. ?If you want to do that, you better pass a law that says you can.?

Asked by one constituent if he believed there?s a scientific basis to support the concept of the greenhouse effect, he said, ?I agree with the thousands of scientists that disagree with your thousands of scientists.?

Huelskamp said one impact of proposed EPA regulations would be a transfer of jobs in the U.S. to companies in other countries that do not have the same emission restrictions, resulting ultimately in more emissions, not less.

?Are we going to embrace this problem (of climate change) or are we just going to ignore it?? a frustrated constituent asked.

Huelskamp said he disagreed that there is a climate-change problem.

?Then we?re done here,? the constituent responded. ?We have differences in the pursuit of truth.?

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